The Fabric District in Buenos Aires

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of our South American Odyssey… Back in January Sarai did a post on Coletterie about her visit to Buenos Aires – the part that caught my eye was that she visited the fabric district! I quickly bookmarked that and locked it into our schedule (I have a Killer spreadsheet).

We weaved our way in and out of market style textile shops (with bolts of fabric spilling out into the street) all the way down Lavalle on either side of Avenida Pueyrredon. I bought some bright blue cotton sateen (with the amazing wool I bought back up in Ecuador behind it):

To be honest, I wasn’t that taken with the fabric shops – but the notions shops just blew me away. Walls and walls of buttons, trim in every style and colour imaginable, incredible laces, feathers and things I didn’t even know existed. It would be a decorating dream come true for any gay man prepping for his mardi gras costume!

I bought some beaded decorations that you can see in the picture above, which I plan to add to tops sometime down the line (in the ever increasing sewing-to-do-list), here’s a couple of them:

Needless to say, I’m itching to get stitching!


Style Icons – and my next Tailoring Project.

Quentin Bryce via Adelaide Now

Do you have a style icon? Maybe like me, you have rather a few. But there’s one secret favourite of mine – and it’s Quentin Bryce, the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Signing Julia Gillard’s commission as Prime Minister

She’s a class act – and always looks impeccable – whether she’s inspecting the troupes or shaking hands with dignitaries. I just love that she wears bright colours. I like to think that when I hit my mid-century I can look as glamorous and as well put together as she! 

Inspecting the Federation Guard, via

I LOVE that indigo coloured outfit! She has revealed that her favourite designer is Pia du Pradal, of Brisbane (naturally).

at Melbourne Law School, via

Not only does she have style, but substance too. She was the first woman on staff to lecture in Law at the University of Queensland, 40 years ago. She’s currently 70.

“She was given a terrible time by those men in the law faculty,” recalls Saunders, now director of the Brisbane Institute. “They were shocking — rude and sarcastic — but she never lowered herself to their level. She had a steely, pleasant demeanour and is not given to spiteful comments or losing her cool.” 
While never a “chain-yourself-to-the-bar or burn-your-bra” type, Fitzgerald says, she was “an ardent feminist”

Both comments were taken from Model of Style, an article in The Australian on 30 August 2008.

Quentin Bryce with the Duke of Edinburgh

If anyone ever offered me the opportunity to meet someone famous – she’s who I’d choose, hands down without even batting an eye-lid.

Quentin with Obama and Julia, via

So with Quentin’s classy style and colour palette in mind, I’m setting out on my most ambitious project-to-be yet. This little gem has been circling the hamster wheel in my head since the inception of The Octopus’ Jacket, and I’ve had the fabric specially for it for nearly as long. Until now I just didn’t have the confidence to (or the skills?) to pull it off. I think I’m ready to try this.

So! What happens when you mix a classic Claire Shaeffer tailored jacket pattern with the crater sleeve concept from Japanese Pattern Magic Vol. 1?


An EPIC jacket, is what. Or so I hope.

I’m practically swooning at the thought of all the lovely tailoring details that will be required for this beauty. I’ve got the shell fabric sorted, but as soon as I get home i’ll be sniffing out lining and notions :)

Santiago’s Museo de la Moda

Does the name Jorge Yarur Bascuñán ring a bell at all? You’ll be forgiven if not, I certainly wasn’t. The descendant of a long line of fabric merchants from the Middle East, he turned the family mansion (an incredible fusion of 60’s and Japanese architecture in Santiago, Chile, into a museum dedicated to fashion and the memory of his Italian mother – a well known Chilean socialite and lover of high end fashion.

“Countries that don’t consider the importance of fashion, are the ones where uniforms take the lead” – Francois Mittterrand, French President 1981-1995

One of the gorgeous Aspects from the Bascuñán house

But he’s also been a collector of some of the most iconic items of clothing we could think of – pieces of clothing from the 1980’s – a decade that was a cocktail of contradictions, a time of crisis where people still placed extreme importance in the arts, where fashion was a recreational extravaganza through which designers expressed their individualism and abandoned any pretension of good and bad taste.

“You have a much better life if you wear impressive clothes” – Vivienne Westwood

Not only are there are 100’s of garments in here documenting fashion’s history over the last 300 odd years, but items like the conical bra Jean Paul Gaultier designed for Madonna, Michael Jackson’s glove and the t-shirt he worn in the video for ‘Beat It’ and my personal favourite – the actual calico toile of Princess Diana’s wedding dress! 

“The difference between style and fashion is quality” – Georgio Armani

“Because clothes should be worn, used” – Issay Miyake

Other things I loved seeing?

Iconic pieces from Vivienne Westwood’s collections throughout the 80’s – including her original ‘gathered tube skirt’ which went on to become one of her most sellable pieces.

Vivienne Westwood pieces from the early
1980’s – including the infamous tube skirt (centre)

“Sometimes you need to transport your idea to an empty landscape then populate it with fantastic looking people” – Vivienne Westwood

Thierry Mugler was a bit of a standout for me in this exhibition, especially his lightning bolt lapel jacket from his A/W 1988 collection, which I stood drooling over for quite some time. I couldn’t quite get a non-blurry picture so have appropriated two of one very similar garment from the interwebs:

From the Fashion Spot


Thierry Mugler’s jacket from his autumn/winter 1988 collection.
Photo from

Plus there was plenty of pieces from 1980’s collections by Comme des Garcon, Issey Miyake, Chanel, Valentino and so many more. Needless to say this was an amazing day out!

“Elegance is forgetting what one is wearing” – Yves Saint Laurent

I came across this place when researching things to do and see whilst we were in this part of Chile, and immediately knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit. I just had to figure out a way to sell it to my beau on terms that would appeal to him…

Turns out I didn’t need to bother – the family bought the Delorean (the time machine car from Back to the Future) in 2008, along with Marty’s self adjusting jacket and Nike shoes (which are stored in a hermetically sealed chamber to prevent further degradation to the light ad oxygen sensitive polymers they were made from), not to mention the piece de la resistance for Mr poppykettle – the jacket worn by Arnie in the original Terminator. After he discovered that, I think he was more excited to visit than I was!

“Show me the clothes of a country and I can write its history” – Anatole France

There’s a fabulous article here that was what made me initially want to visit. Worth the read! And of course, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood – do stop by.

The Lowdown:
Museo de la Moda
Address: Av. Vitacura 4562Santiago
Contact: 2/218-7271

NL6735: The loversandhaters Tee

NL6735 1

The idea for this little t-shirt has been slow-cooking in my imagination for quite some time… so I’m glad to finally see it come to fruition! These pictures were taken on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia on an incredibly amazing 4 day 4WD trip across the desert and over into Chile. Can I just say – San Pedro de Atacama (a little city in the desert at the top of Chile) has completely stolen my heart!


I‘ve been searching for a TNT knit tee pattern to call my own, and I think New Look 6735 is it. I love the Renfrew for its simple construction techniques (those banded sleeve and hems – which I totally stole for this tee – as if you wouldn’t!) but this pattern has a seam at the back as well as at the sides – this appears to allow the top to be better fitted, especially across the waist. I often find stretch tops to be too tight across the bust and then loose and floppy around my mid-section – this back seam allowed me to get around this in a quick and easy way!

NL6735 7
The stunning backdrop – a volcanic lagoon with Flamingoes

A long while ago on Burdastyle I favourited this lace and knit tee-shirt by fellow Burdastyler loversandhaters. I loved the idea of mixing the two differently textured fabrics together, and went about trying to find something to replicate it – ending up with a black broderie anglaise and a dark grey (wool and polyamide) jersey knit.

Yup, it‘s wool from Tessuti again. Another very travel friendly top! Taking the well celebrated basic tee from New Look pattern 6735 (a great co-ordinates pattern which I originally bought for the cardigan – still to be made as I’ve yet to find the right fabric), I went about changing it to suit my purposes.

The main Plaza in Sucre, Bolivia – a gorgeous colonial style town.

I kept it simple by adding in an inverted triangle of the broderie anglaise to both the front and back of this tee. Just before I started to cut up this fabric, I did a bit of a house tidy-up and came across some black silk habotai scraps. On impulse I thought they’d be great to do a bit of a border linking the two (just included in the seam, ironed then topstitched down). 

NL6735 Lace Tee

I finished the neckline with a self-made bias binding with some black cotton voile to match the broderie anglaise. My one little boo-boo was trying to make the sleeve cuffs a bit smaller than on the Renfrew – not such a great idea. They have the habit of rolling up because of the bulk of the seam. In future I’ll stick to the Renfrew width!

Feeling a tad guilty that I may be standing on somebodies table salt…

The result is a super comfy tee (I love the freedom of movement you get with a stretch top) with a bit of visual interest that takes it beyond your standard block colour knit top. I m definitely going to try this modification again but with a different shaped panel of woven fabric. 

NL6735 4
Lets make it official shall we? Im a maneater!

Perfect to go with spending the weekend in denim. On the Bolivian Salt Flats of course. Love!


Peruvian Fibre Fabulousness

I’ll admit, I’m an absolute novice when it comes to all things knitting/crocheting/weaving related. I’ve signed up to ravelry with good intentions, but I just can’t get kick started on learning beyond the knit and purl stitch in a rectangle (I generally tend to knit a scarf each year for myself).

I was hoping that being in Peru and surrounded by the indomitable knitting/weaving skills of the Quechuan women might awaken some kind of dormant knitting talent – nup. 

Looks like I’ll just have to do it the hard way and practice until I get it right.

Check out this incredible hand woven (and hand dyed) tapestry we picked up:

Everywhere we go the skills of these women – and men!! are on display. Weaving, knitting, embroidery – you name it, they can do it with incredible skill. Check out this website for more info – Threads of Peru – a social and non-profit enterprise that is making moves to preserve the traditional weaving of the Quechua women, and improving their economic lot.

In the mean time, I’m moderately obsessed with buying beautiful and incredibly soft wool. I always thought Alpaca hair (not actually a wool!) was the ultimate fibre – not so according to the Peruvians. They’re more likely to use the stuff for making our equivalent of a hessian sack. 

From L-R – Vicuna, Guanaco, Alpaca and Llama

There are 4 grades of fibre, each more exquisite than the last:

Llama – likely to spit on you if you get too close (unless, as one guide with comically stilted english explained, they are ‘Llamas with education’), these fellas were and still are today used as meat and for carrying products.

Alpaca – known for having the longest fibre of all the camelids and with the broadest natural colour range, alpaca’s can be long or short haired. Their fibres are known for extraordinary warmth and are the main supplier for the Andean textile industry. 

Guanaco – large, gorgeously cinnamon coloured and known for it’s enormous strength, this species is protected by International Law. It was domesticated and genetically engineered to produce the Llama.

Vicuna – the smallest and most beautiful of the camelid family producing the finest quality of fibre, used exclusively for making clothes for the Inca (the King) and Quechuan noble families. The poor dears were nearly hunted to extinction – today they’re also a protected species.

Most commonly available in Peru are gorgeous garments made from Alpaca and Vicuna, the former being really very affordable and the latter a tad exxy.

Just as we crossed the border into Peru, I saw Zoe from ZoSews knitted cable beret and fell in lust. A few days later I walked into an alpaca product shop and the instance purchase reflex was activated – I walked back out with this gorgeous pop corn beanie:

I also bought some baby alpaca wool in a cool blue and oatmeal colour – for this years obligatory knitted scarf. But this time I’m going to try a something that may require a bit of skill – this gorgeous raspberry stitch perhaps?

If anyone has any tips or handy websites for ambitious beginner knitters I’d be most grateful!! 

And thanks a million for your love from my Sweet Shorts :)